When the COVID-19 pandemic began changing the course of education for K-12 students, Kim Donovan decided to shift her career to help students have the ability to experience some normalcy in a time that has been far from normal.

A former music teacher in Lexington School District Two, Donavan left her classroom job in February on maternity leave after giving birth to her son. Little did she know, that was the last time she would see her students in-person because of the pandemic.

She said after seeing how music classes would have to operate in the COVID-19 era, Donovan felt she could not effectively teach her students with the new instruction style.

“Music classes are definitely changing right now, kids aren’t allowed to sing out loud and they have to wear masks and stay in their seats,” Donovan said. “I think music teachers in public schools are doing a phenomenal job making adjustments, but I just wanted to create some sense of normalcy for our kids”

Donavan decided to open her own outdoor music school where students could sing and play music without being restricted, while remaining in a socially distanced setting.

“I didn’t want to give up my passion,” Donovan said. “I still wanted to be able to teach so I opened Tempo Music and Arts.”

Tempo Music and Arts allows children up to 10 years old to experience a “normal” music class outdoors. Classes are held on the patio at West Columbia’s Stone River, where classes of up to 10 students can gather outdoors while maintaining social distancing.

“It’s a gorgeous location, and there’s plenty of air circulation,” she said.

Donovan created music bags for her students to use which include “instruments” for them to make music. Items include pool noodles, shakers and music sticks for students to follow along with the instructor’s lessons. Donovan said she carefully chose items she could easily sanitize after use.

According to Donovan, her new business has allowed her to coach other music teachers and have them teach her students for a sense of normalcy for themselves as well.

“I love coaching other teachers,” she said. “I also have a USC senior who comes to teach a class, who is a music ed major who may not have the chance to student teach in a school this year.”

Donovan also expressed her excitement for the stress-free environment that her classes offer because she and her instructors have significantly smaller class sizes.

Parents interested in enrolling their children at Tempo Music and Arts can visit the business Facebook page to register.

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